La rigidité est source d’instabilité

Tout le monde souhaite la stabilité et pourtant rares sont ceux qui acceptent d’abandonner aujourd’hui ce qui leur apportait la stabilité hier. Mais vouloir la stabilité à partir de la rigidité est illusoire. La stabilité du système financier international actuel repose sur le bon vouloir de pays dont les taux de change sont fixes à leur donner davantage de flexibilité.

Dans le sillage de la crise financière internationale de 1997-1998, plusieurs marchés émergents se sont retrouvés extrêmement compétitifs, grâce à deux facteurs principaux : la dépréciation de leur monnaie ou des gains de productivité rapides, ou les deux. Les pays qui disposaient de comptes courants excédentaires importants ont commencé à amasser des réserves de change considérables et ont fixé (ou dirigé) le taux de change de leur devise de manière à soutenir ces deux objectifs, stabilisant ainsi le système financier global.

L’ironie de la crise de 1997-1998 est qu’elle a montré les limites d’un taux de change fixe dans un pays lorsqu’on assiste à une fuite des capitaux. Et pourtant, sous divers aspects, l’accumulation des réserves de change a fonctionné mieux qu’on ne pouvait s’y attendre – les pays ont découvert qu’ils pouvaient encaisser des chocs importants et que la croissance était forte tant aux plans intérieur qu’extérieur. En l’espace de quelques années, plusieurs pays en ont conclu qu’un taux de change fixe était viable à condition d’être soutenu par un trésor de guerre de réserves de change officielles suffisamment important. Un nouvel ordre est apparu dans le système mondial du régime de changes.

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